Most consumers assume that high quality wine must be packaged in a glass bottle with a traditional cork. That is the image the industry has emphasized, and, really, who doesn’t love the ceremony of popping a cork and sharing a bottle with friends? But for wines that are meant to be fresh, drunk young, and easy sipping, there are many alternatives that are bursting on to retail shelves, even here in New York City.
We now carry a few tetra-pack and wine-in-a-can options, and both are becoming more accepted and increasingly popular. Yes, you can find good wine in these types of containers. Is it the kind of wine you want to open on a special occasion? Probably not, unless the occasion is tailgating at the Giants game or catching a concert in the park. But there is no need to sacrifice quality.
So, what are the advantages of these alternative containers? The packaging lends itself to backpacks, coolers, outdoor events, and even casual indoor settings where beer is generally the beverage de rigueur. In addition, most alternative packages can claim less environmental impact and better economics for the producer.
Bag in Box wines are convenient, great for parties, and stay fresh in the fridge for weeks after being opened. Tetra-Paks, which were originally created for milk and are common as juice containers, are light and easy to throw in a bag on the go. Also, they do a better job than plastic of protecting the wine inside as oxygen can penetrate plastic, shortening the shelf life. Many Tetra-Pak wines do not list a vintage date, so it’s wise to check the year the wine was “bottled” and drink it within a year or two when it’s at its freshest.
Cans are portable, easy to chill in a cooler, and enable you to blend in with the beer drinkers. In fact, the idea started to take off in the wine business after many craft beer makers started offering their special brews in cans. The container keeps the wine fresh and any concerns about tinny flavors have thus far been unjustified. Most of the wine cans on the market are lined so that the wine and the interior of the can are not in contact anyway. Federal regulations require wine to be packaged in certain sized containers. So, although that can-o-wine may look the same size as a beer can, it’s actually either 375ml (a half bottle of wine versus 355ml for beer) or 500ml (comparable to a “tall boy” of beer which weighs in at 473ml). Advantage: wine drinkers.
Other unconventional packaging making its way to market includes recycled plastic bottles (or PET), Single-Serve PET bottles with clip on plastic cups, Wine Pouches, Paper Bottles, and Stackables, which stack together stemless wine glasses to make up a full sized 750ml bottle. Millennials are more willing to try these alternative packages so it looks like the trend is here to stay. Stop being so fussy and give these new innovations a try. A few tetra-paks wines we recommend include Calnaturale and Bota Box from California and Fuoristrada from Italy. Great tasting canned options include Fiction Wines from California and Underwood from Oregon. Cheers!